As the playoff picture in the NHL begins to settle, the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angles Kings know that they will play one another to open the postseason.
This matchup brings a lot of intriguing headlines with it, the most similar of which was the battle required by each team to even qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both of these clubs, at at least one point in this campaign, looked as though the postseason may not be in their futures.
In the end, both did what was necessary to get in, and now they will begin their quest for the Stanley Cup against each other. The Kings will look to make a run at the Cup for the first time since 2014, while the Oilers are vying for their first successful postseason of the Connor McDavid era.
What I love about this upcoming series is that there is nothing similar about these teams. LA and Edmonton are coming into this matchup as complete opposites, which should make for some interesting hockey.
The Kings and Oilers could not be less similar playoff opponents.
To start, let’s look at where these teams have been. The Kings, despite having only two playoff appearances and no series victories since winning the Cup in 2014, bring more championship pedigree to the series.
Players like forwards Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown and goaltender Jonathan Quick will be tasked with bringing that version of the Kings to the forefront against the less experienced Oilers.
Edmonton, though wildly talented, has won only one playoff series (in 2017) with its currently constructed core. While a guy like Duncan Keith offers some championship experience, this team largely has not succeeded at this stage of the season.
In terms of where these teams are now, one is set up to outskate and outscore the opposition on a nightly basis. The Oilers have scored 3.5 goals per game, which is seventh in the league, while allowing 3.1 goals per contest.
Conversely, the Kings have the NHL’s ninth-best defense, allowing 2.8 goals per game. Meanwhile, Los Angeles scores only 2.9 times each outing.
There is nothing similar about these teams, as the Kings look to make one more run at a defensively-driven championship, while the Oilers will attempt to score their way to their first deep playoff run.
The Oilers won three of four regular season meetings between these clubs, setting up what should be a fantastic series.